The Sad Finale For Firetide (Unicam Acquires)

By: John Honovich, Published on May 19, 2014

It was inevitable.

After burning through ~$50 million over the past decade, the former poster boy for wireless video surveillance, Firetide, has been acquired by a salvage specialist.

In this note, we examine what happened to Firetide, what the acquirer does and what this means for wireless video surveillance.

Unicom Global

Unicom Global, a peculiar company, acquired Firetide for an undisclosed amount of cash (though we doubt it was more than a 1/10th of what Firetide raised).

This Unicom is a privately held conglomerate and should not be confused with the Chinese multi-billion telecom giant.

They buy up lots of companies, frequently distressed and typically within IT. For example, after the US federal government suspended integrator GTSI from selling to them, Unicom bought them and made it their government division. Another deal example is US Robotics, the once powerful, but long since faded, dial up modem manufacturer.

Unicom offers little public information on their business practices or revenue but former employees explained the aftermath of acquisitions thusly:

"Shortly after being acquired our company IET Solutions saw dramatic changes forced upon us by the Unicom Management team. In an effort to improve margins we stopped developing our product, the QA organization was let go, and even the product/customer support group was terminated. The office in the US was reduced to 3 staff members."

and "Stop trying to grow by acquisition and take care of your clients. Buying distressed firms (USRobotics, GTSI, etc.) just makes things worse. The founder-president-CEO needs to stop thinking he is the smartest man in the universe, and actually listen to people who work for him."

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

The upside is that the company may be good at digesting these distressed companies and making smaller scale profitable business units out of them. Unicom can and will likely cross sell Firetide to other Unicom units (such as the former GTI) while slashing Firetide's cost structure to maximize profitability.

The downside is that any dream of expansion, or even broad use of Firetide, seems unlikely.

Why Did This Happen?

No one has ever made mesh mainstream for video surveillance. The main causes were (1) too complicated to make work by non-experts, (2) too costly for products (10x+ more than PTP like Ubiquiti) and (3) too much of a niche for surveillance (only the biggest 10% or 20% really needed mesh. This is reflected in our newest 2014 wireless video surveillance favorites.

Firetide had already been facing that reality for years as the good times of raising big money had long past (the last big raise was back in 2009). Indeed, even the new CEO (from Cisco) in 2013, was evidently content or constrained to stay their more modest course.

And now they are a division of cleanup conglomerate.

 

7 reports cite this report:

Micropower Fails on May 02, 2016
Wireless video surveillance is a tough business. Micropower sought to deliver a wireless, turn-key, professional video solution. The most famous...
Favorite Wireless Manufacturers 2016 on Mar 07, 2016
Following up on our 2014 survey for Integrator's Favorite Wireless Products, here are the new results. The top spot may not surprise you, but the...
The Next Failure in Wireless Video Surveillance: $18 Million Funding on Aug 21, 2015
Wireless video surveillance is one of the most difficult niches in the industry. Tens of millions have been wasted trying to build a wireless...
Siklu Wireless Video Surveillance Examined on May 07, 2015
Wireless video surveillance has not been an easy market over the past few years. Ubiquiti drained money out of the market by making $200 wireless...
Major Moves - Security Manufacturers 2014 / 2015 on Dec 08, 2014
This guide summarizes the biggest moves of security manufacturers in 2014 and 2015, concentrating on acquisitions, fund raising, significant stock...
Winner and Losers of the Milestone Deal on Jun 16, 2014
An industry changing event. Canon's acquisition of Milestone will impact the industry for years to come. But who fared the best and worst from...
Falling Down: The 2014 Mid-Year Guide on Jun 02, 2014
Falling down - the theme of the 2014 video surveillance industry. This is the toughest stretch for the industry overall, since at least the...
Comments (20) : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Qognify Dropping Seetec and OnSSI Brands on Mar 01, 2019
Qognify is dropping both the Seetec and OnSSI brands, just over 2 months after acquiring OnSSI / Seetec and a week after sweeping cuts to the...
Pelco Sold Off, Now Independent on May 28, 2019
Pelco has been sold off by Schneider Electric, completing Schneider's terrible tenure, but giving Pelco a chance at life. IPVM spoke with...
Securadyne CEO: IPVM 'Entertaining For An Ignorant Few' on Apr 16, 2019
Securadyne's CEO Carey Boethel is unhappy with IPVM's report - Failed Integrator Rollup, Securadyne Sells to Guard Giant Allied. Indeed, he...
Nortek Security CEO Out, Company Pivoting on May 28, 2019
Nortek Security's CEO, Michael O'Neal is out, after 8 years leading the company, in what Nortek described to IPVM as them having 'pivoted strongly...
Vidsys New President Interviewed on May 31, 2019
A decade ago, PSIM was hot with projections then of a billion dollar market by now. This has not come close to happening. However, Vidsys, one of...
Motorola Acquires Watchguard, Adds to Vigilant And Avigilon on Jul 15, 2019
2 years ago, Motorola had no position nor relevancy to video surveillance. Now, they own major video surveillance, LPR and body camera providers...
Fujifilm Expanding Into Video Surveillance on Jul 26, 2019
While Sony continues to fade out of the video surveillance market and Canon continues to make huge investments into acquiring video surveillance...
How Cobalt Robotics May Disrupt Security on Sep 13, 2019
While security robots have largely become a joke over the last few years, one organization, Cobalt Robotics, has raised $50+ million from top US...
Struggling Arcules Changes Chief Revenue Officer on Oct 29, 2019
Canon / Milestone spinout Arcules has struggled, now changing their Chief Revenue Officer, just a year after he came on board. The issue is not...
ADT Stock Surges - "Leading The Commercial Space" on Nov 15, 2019
Don't call it comeback... but maybe call it a commercial provider. ADT, whose stock dropped by as much as 2/3rds since IPOing in 2018, has now...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Milestone Launches Multiple Cloud Solutions on Feb 18, 2020
Milestone is going to the cloud, becoming one of the last prominent VMSes to do so. Milestone is clearly late but how competitive do these new...
Video Surveillance 101 Course - Last Chance Thursday on Feb 18, 2020
IPVM's first Video Surveillance 101 course starts this month, designed to help those new to the industry to quickly understand the most important...
Video Surveillance Architecture 101 on Feb 18, 2020
Video surveillance can be designed and deployed in a number of ways. This 101 examines the most common options and architectures used in...
UK Stands Behind Hikvision But Controversy Continues on Feb 18, 2020
Hikvision is exhibiting at a UK government conference for law enforcement, provoking controversy from the press, politicians, and activists due to...
IronYun AI Analytics Tested on Feb 17, 2020
Taiwan startup IronYun has raised tens of millions for its "mission to be the leading Artificial Intelligence, big data video software as a service...
Access Control ADA and Disability Laws Tutorial on Feb 17, 2020
Safe access control is paramount, especially for those with disabilities. Most countries have codes to mandate safe building access for those...
ISC West 2020 Removes China Pavilion, No Plans To Cancel Or Postpone on Feb 17, 2020
ISC West plans to go on next month, amidst concerns over coronavirus. However, the Asia / China Pavilion has been removed, show organizers...
Hanwha Wisenet X Plus PTRZ Tested on Feb 14, 2020
Hanwha has released their PTRZ camera, the Wisenet X Plus XNV-6081Z, claiming the "modular design allows for easy installation". We bought and...
PRC Warns Against China Video Surveillance Hacks, Hikvision Targeted on Feb 14, 2020
Hackers are targeting China video surveillance manufacturers and systems, according to the PRC's main cyber threat monitoring body. The hackers...
IPVM Conference 2020 on Feb 13, 2020
IPVM is excited to announce our 2020 conference. This is the first and only industry event that will be 100% sponsor-free. Like IPVM online, the...